Cyclists riding down road near water.
MCC photo/Michael Veith

Cyclists on a section of the course at Cycle Clear Lake.


Playing time: 
Join Threads for a conversation about Cycle Clear Lake, a cyclathon fundraiser for MCC.

Listen in as our host Kyle Rudge talks with Arnold and Joanne Hildebrand about Cycle Clear Lake, a cycle fundraiser that they were a part of creating over 20 years ago. They also share stories about pasts events and their longer history with MCC.

Threads, formerly known as Word and Deed, was established in April 2007. It is a 15-minute radio program by KR Words featuring the work of MCC in Manitoba and around the world. Threads broadcasts on CFAM AM 950, CHSM AM 1250 and CHRB AM 1220 at 8:45 am on the first Sunday of the month. 

Audio Transcription:

Kyle Rudge (00:02):


It begins with a single thread woven through other thread and then another and another, until we have a single piece of fabric that fabric is stretched, cut, and stitched together with another, just like it. This process is repeated over and over and over until we have a beautiful tapestry that all began with a single thread. Welcome to MCC threads, where we look closely at how our stories in Manitoba weaved together with the stories of MCC and its partners around the world.

Arnold Hildebrand (00:51):

Oh, it was a great success. We didn't have our site that we had wanted, and it turned out had we been given that site, we wouldn't have been able to run it because the trails were so eroded.

Joanne Hildebrand (01:03):

And it was familiar faces, “Oh, you're here again, and you're here again, and you're still here!” A good feeling. It was very upbeat, and to have it end with such a high number of amount of money raised was sort of the crowning glory.

Kyle Rudge (01:20):

After a two year pandemic hiatus, Cycle Clear Lake was back, and it was very evident that the atmosphere was one of elation and excitement. For so many, that shared experience is the foundation of many relationships that have formed over the years it's been around. So to have it back meant so much to so many people.

Kaiella Athaide-Lepp (01:41):

I do it because I enjoy helping other people and fundraising and as well as the cycling part, it's just all around fun.

Kyle Rudge (01:49):

That's Kaiella Athaide-Lepp. She was at the event this year and Michael Veith from MCC managed to pull her aside for an interview. She's got a familial connection to Cycle Clear Lake and has been a participant for many years. We'll hear some of her stories a bit later for now, meet Arnold and Joanne Hildebrand.

Arnold Hildebrand (02:06):

Hi, I'm Arnold Hildebrand. I, together with two others, started the Cycle Clear Lake in 2001.

Joanne Hildebrand (02:14):

I'm Joanne Hildebrand. We live in Brandon Manitoba, and my role within Cycle Clear Lake has changed since we were away for a few years in Abbotsford with MCC. Before I did registration, now I am a support person. I help count the funds and I am a super shopper for some prizes.

Kyle Rudge (02:37):

After hearing that little flex from Joanne, I did a small deviation in interview because well, I had to ask.

Joanne Hildebrand (02:45):

Well, if you look at a retail sticker there was something for a $70 that I got for $5. I just stumbled upon that, I was not searching that day, but I thought I'm going to buy this and I can donate it to something, and it turned out be for Cycle Clear Lake prize.

Kyle Rudge (03:07):

Over 20 years ago, a handful of cyclists had an idea.

Arnold Hildebrand (03:11):

We started actually three years with Bike the White Shell, organized by MCC Manitoba. Then the three of us, Herman Lepp, Reinhold Kramer, and I, I got them together and they were all cyclists. Herman is from Grace Mennonite church, where we attend, Reinhold is from the Mennonite Brethren church. I was kind of getting it up, organizing meetings and the first few years we had a few meetings to get organized, get things in order. After that we still have our meetings, but it's more or less a social time.

Kyle Rudge (03:47):

If I'm honest, there are so many causes that need and deserve attention, yet for twenty plus years Arnold and Joanne have been faithfully organizing and participating in Cycle Clear Lake in honor of one cause. Why MCC? Why support Mennonite Central Committee all these years?

Arnold Hildebrand (04:07):

Well, I would say it would've started in my hometown where I grew up, which I haven't lived now for the last 60 years. We had one of our Prairie Rose Church, at the time in Landmark, person who went to India with MCC and came back telling stories and it was so exciting. Then after we got married we were living up north, we had an MCC guest speaker at our church, and we had been thinking about doing something.

Joanne Hildebrand (04:39):

We hosted him.

Arnold Hildebrand (04:40):


Joanne Hildebrand (04:41):

And about almost a year after we hosted this man, we decided we were interested in getting application forms and I phoned the MCC office and spoke to him. And he right away, when he heard my name in my request, he said, "I told you so!"

Kyle Rudge (05:05):

Both Arnold and Joanne ended up serving for a term in Lesotho, South Africa. Upon their return, Cycle Clear Lake began and their connection to MCC since, has only deepened. They've served on boards, helped out wherever they can. Most recently there was a short stint in Abbotsford, BC, as hosts for a guest house where they found themselves helping out an African refugee.

Arnold Hildebrand (05:26):

Carrying in a plastic grocery bag, all of the belongings.

Joanne Hildebrand (05:30):

Carrying in a grocery bag, barely half full of his belongings, and he lived in the guest house with us for two weeks. We had him for meals and took him shopping and talked about southern Africa because we'd been there. It was an amazing experience to see this young man arrive and be part of that very beginning.

Arnold Hildebrand (05:53):

Yeah and MCC has been a life changing force for many people. It's been a, you know, as the model says “A Christian resource for meeting human need,” but it has also been a life changing for us. I think our experience with MCC has been very positive.

Joanne Hildebrand (06:10):

So I also had about a 20 year connection in leadership with Ten Thousand Villages in Brandon, participants in Go 100 a couple of times, and now Arnold is part of the MCC thrift store board here in Brandon.

Kyle Rudge (06:27):

And now it's Cycle Clear Lake and for the Hildebrand's it is a family affair.

Joanne Hildebrand (06:32):

The first year we probably asked our daughter if she would help with registration, and because our son-in-law has access to equipment from the farm that he could bring a quad, but after that, I don't know. I think it's usually “what date have you set for next year?” so that they didn't book something else to give it priority. Even though they've been good fundraisers, choosing a prize in order of fundraising total, sometimes one has taken a water bottle when they would've been eligible to take something much more valuable. So they're not in it for prizes, it's for the fun, the good food afterwards, and just being together. It's a very fine feeling really that you've been a model for something that's important. You've done something that's important, and your children and grandchildren have seen its importance. And for something like cycling, to themselves, for exercise, for a lifelong activity, something that they can do for a long time, because you know, we go now from 15 to 76 in age. So it shows that you can do it in a group of wide age spread.

Arnold Hildebrand (07:56):

Oh it's wonderful. They're very much into physical activity with their biking and their kayaking and hiking. We've done so many hikes and kayak trips together and to have the family together enjoying God's great creation is just awesome. Yeah and they've been so supportive in fact if, you know, we ever not have it, they would just really miss that event.

Kyle Rudge  (08:28):

Kaiella's most memorable moment was a bit more dramatic than perhaps Arnold and Joanne, but clearly as she told the memory that same smile that Arnold and Joanne had was on her face as well.

Kaiella Athaide-Lepp (8:39):

Okay, so I think it was my third year cycling. There was this downhill that was really steep and then it had a curve. I didn't turn and went straight into the bush, so that was really fun, but in the end we were fine so it was just a good story.

Arnold Hildebrand (08:56):

I've been thinking a little bit about it and to me the most memorable important thing is always when the people that count the money, Joanne and Rita, announce how much has been earned for MCC. That to me (and it's gone up up up, and this year was just amazing with the per cyclist income), that always gives a great thrill, but in terms of on the trail yeah, we've had a variety of encounters. We've had to hold up some cyclists as they were waiting for a couple of bears on the trail and as soon as the crowd gathered, the bears decided to leave. In a pre-cycle once, in a bit of a mist, we saw a lynx straight in front of us leap across a bridge, and I'd never seen a lynx in the park before, so that was quite an amazing sight. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Clear Lake, there's South lake and there's a narrow strip of land that required a bit of a bridge, and that has washed away many years ago. So that comes and goes, and the first year when there was nothing there between South Lake and Clear Lake, the three of us went through and we didn't know how deep it was. My bike went right under, and I had to put my hand out for them to pull me out of the water, it was so deep. It was narrow, but it was deep. Later on we found out if you head out, you know, maybe 20, 30 meters there was actually a sandbar that we could have crossed maybe knee or hip deep. So then of course we had to advise all the cyclists “Hey there will be a water crossing and you will get wet!” So that was really quite exciting. Yeah.

Joanne Hildebrand (10:44):

I think you had a canoe there for that.

Arnold Hildebrand (10:46):

We actually had a canoe of some cyclists didn't feel comfortable walking through the water.

Joanne Hildebrand (10:52):

I'm always glad when the day that maybe has thunder clouds around, don’t actually develop and everybody rides maybe in heat, but not wet. I don't think we've had a big downpour ever in our time there. When everybody is in safely and you can hear of a few band aids or, you know, one repaired something on a bike, I'm relieved, but I'm also grateful for that. So I don't have a lot of specific, although it had been a pleasant surprise to have people come from afar and find out that they’re children of people I went to university with, and the parents have come along. There have been some random meetings and that's always exciting to just have that chance happening.

Kyle Rudge (11:46):

Congratulations to the Cycle Clear Lake participants, volunteers, and donors, and incidentally to also the MCC golf tournament committee sponsors and golfers. Together those two events over the summer raised approximately $90,000 in support of MCC's work with refugees and displaced families around the globe. That is incredible. Well done, everyone. I'm not sure if you caught it a little earlier, but Arnold and Joanne also participated in years past in something called Go 100. If setting up a large cyclathon, getting permission from the parks, advertising, recruiting, volunteers, organizing prizes, insurance, seems just a little daunting to you, but you'd still like to find something that's your own that can help for a good cause, that's Go 100. The Go 100 challenge is to raise money for MCC by doing one hundred of the activity of your choice. Really anything works. Whether you choose to bike, paddle, or run that one hundred kilometers or make one hundred strawberry tarts or rhubarb squares, or donate one hundred items to an MCC thrift shop, you'll bring relief to refugees and displaced people around the world.


Your imagination is your only limit. And even then, I'm sure if you called with an interest in doing Go 100, but couldn't figure out an idea, someone at MCC will think of something that will give you life along the way. You can find out more and sign up at The numbers Go - 100. Thank you to Arnold and Joanne and Kaiella for sharing your experiences with Cycle Clear Lake, but also why MCC is so important to you all these years. Thank you to Nikki Hamm Gwala for your story assistance and Michael Veith for your interview assistance. I'm Kyle Rudge, and this is MCC Threads.

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